Family Reunion and Devil's Garden
Friday, October 4
Arriving back in Escalante from our Boulder Creek hike at ten minutes past 4pm, we discovered - not surprisingly - that Arn's family had indeed arrived, and had checked into their motel room at the Prospector Inn. In fact, they had been waiting around for almost a couple of hours.
We apologized for our tardiness, and had a little discussion outside the motel rooms to decide what to do. Arn and Gosia's kids - Nel and Kai - were full of energy after being cooped up in a car all day and were practically bouncing off the walls and floors - much to the annoyance of the resident of the motel room directly underneath. We decided it would be best - and only fair to Gosia, Nel and Kai - to head out and explore something. It was Arn and Gosia's kids first time in the desert, and they were keen to explore the landscape and its weird and colorful shapes.
The intro slot canyons of Peekaboo and Spooky were a natural for first-timers, but they were a little too far down the Hole-in-the-rock road to be practical at this late time during the day. The other very obvious location was Devil's Garden. Much closer, and requiring no hike-in approach time. It would be perfect for the kids.
Gosia had managed to snag a behemoth of a rental vehicle upon arrival in Las Vegas - a big, white GMC Yukon SUV. It had a seating capacity of eight, meaning that all of us (our total number had gone back up, to seven) could easily fit in it. So, in one vehicle, we headed back east out of Escalante, and turned off onto the Hole-in-the-Rock road. The semi-unhappy ranger was waiting once again, probably bored out of his mind sitting on the side of the road all day. Devil's Garden is not within the Glen Canyon NRA, and so he quickly waved us along.
Devil's Garden Hoodoos
Devil's Garden is a remarkable little patch of land along the Hole-in-the-Rock road, about 20km (12 miles) in. Completely invisible from the road, a short side road leads to a large parking area, a couple of picnic tables, and an interpretive sign. Immediately adjacent to the parking lot is a ten-acre patch of land upon which a set of hoodoos - the Devil's Garden - is located. In this particular and unique location, three distinct flavors Entrada Sandstone are positioned just in the right place relative to the surface to produce very remarkable tri-layered hoodoos: a bulging layer of slickrock on the top, a friable red, earthy layer in the middle, and clean white rounded slickrock on the bottom. The hoodoos are all concentrated in one area, with plenty of little paths, passageways, and flats between them, creating - quite literally - the perfect all-natural kids' playground.
Nel and Kai - already enthusiastic about the desert scenery they'd seen so far, were immediately excited to see Devil's Garden. They literally exploded out of the car like wound-up springs suddenly released, running full-tilt to the nearest of the hoodoos.
For the next hour, Arn and Gosia's kids burned through what must have been an amazing number of calories. No nook, cranny, peephole, tunnel, arch, or tower was left unexplored, or visited only once.
Arn was very good about allowing the kids explore their limits with regards to climbing and heights, letting them have quite a bit of autonomy and pulling them back only on the occasion where they might be approaching a situation that was a little too rash, which was actually quite rare. They were quite courageous on the heights and slopes they tackled, but pretty much always backed off when things got too tough. A refreshing thing to see in a world seemingly overrun with excessive cautiousness.
Victorious little climber
Lots of climbing victories
We wandered amidst the beautiful scenery, welcoming the fact that the inclement weather of mid-day was now starting to melt away, to be replaced with clear skies and a light wind.
Andrew, Kyle, Devil's Garden
It was tricky to keep track of Nel and Kai, flitting to and fro, disappearing into narrow cracks and re-appearing around a corner, two hoodoos away. After about an hour, though, they finally had started to slow, having expended most of their pent-up energy. Arn cleverly shepherded them back towards the parking lot, and by 6pm we were all in the car and headed back towards Escalante.
Devil's Garden Parking Lot
A return to the Circle D restaurant for dinner capped off a full day, and we retired for another night in motel rooms at the Prospector Inn.